October 31, 1995
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Blood drive conducted to benefit
In re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated October 17, 1995
You and your wife recently had a baby boy who has been diagnosed with the disease of osteopetrosis. Unless the baby can get a bone marrow transplant, the prognosis is that he will die at an early age. You state that a group of people want to conduct a blood drive to find out if one or more donor's bone marrow would be compatible with that of your son. The blood bank has indicated that it would be willing to test each donor for $22.50. The woman who would spearhead the blood drive hopes to get between 300 and 500 people tested and wanted to raise money for that purpose. You state that you would not be involved in any of the fundraising, but that a picture of your baby boy would be used to encourage people to donate blood. You inquire whether there would be an (sic) ethical problems if the blood drive took place and money was raised.
Canon 2 provides that a judge must avoid the appearance of impropriety in all of his activities and Canon 2B provides that "[a] provides that a judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others..." Canon 5A provides that a judge shall conduct all of his or her extra-judicial activities so that they do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge's impartiality, demean the judicial office of interfere with the performance of judicial activities. Canon 5C(3) governs a judge's activities as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of charitable and other similar organizations. This Canon provides that a judge is not to solicit funds except with a very limited exception concerning other judges and is not to personally participate in membership solicitation if the solicitation could reasonably be perceived to be coercive
The ten responding members of the Committee unanimously agree that your proposed activities do not run afoul of the Code. Seeking medical help for you baby through blood donations form the community cannot reasonably be considered as lending the prestige of office to advance the private interest of others as that phrase is used in the Code. While you are certainly seeking to advance the interest of your son, you plight is no different that any other family caught in a similar medical dilemma. It is commonplace for public pleas to be made by family members for blood donations or other donations to aid a stricken love (sic) one. Your baby should not be placed at a disadvantage just because his father happens to be a judge
Additionally, the (sic) you have stated that you will not be participating in the actual solicitation of blood donors and the fund raising for money to cover the cost of the testing. You have further stated only your son's photo would be used to encourage donors. There is no indication that you will be identified in any of the solicitation materials as a judge, although the possibility does exist.
The Committee is expressly charged with rendering advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting a judge or judicial candidate. Its opinions are advisory to the inquiring party, to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and to the judiciary at large. Conduct that is consistent with an advisory opinion issued by the Committee may be evidence of good faith on the part of the judges, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions by the Committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges, 327 So.2d 5 (Fla. 1976).
Very Truly Yours,
Oliver L. Green, Jr., Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct
CC: All Committee Members
Office of the State Courts Administrator
(Name of judge deleted from this copy)
Participating Members:Judges Cardonne, Dell, Doughtie, Green, C. Kahn, L. Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman and Tolton